T3 was exclusively invited to the Bose headquarters in Framingham, Boston last week to get an exclusive look at the VideoWave entertainment system, an innovative all-in-one home cinema set-up and music system the company has been working on for 10 years.
Central to the VideoWave is a 46-inch 1080p LCD display which houses all the speaker technology needed to deliver surround sound without relying on separate pumps.
Up to five high definition devices including Blu-ray players, games consoles and set-top boxes, can be connected to the base console which stores the information needed to re-create interfaces from your devices straight onto the display.
Completing the entertainment experience is an Apple iPhone 4 or iPod dock and Bose's new click pad remote which controls all of the on-screen menus. We spent some time with the VideoWave to determine whether it's a home cinema revolution in the making.
Bose VideoWave: Design
Let's get one thing clear: this is an audio system with a LCD display and not the other way around, as made evident by the sheer effort and determination that went into building it. As a consumer, you may be blissfully unaware of the underlying effort Bose invested into this device, so here's one: they had to find a way to fit the audio mechanics inside the TV, but in a way so that the sound vibrations cannot damage the screen. Tough one.
With its black matte finish and uninspiring looks, the VideoWave is unlikely to get a mention for Best Design in the T3 Gadget Awards 2011, but Bose assures us it’s the innovative audio engineering inside the television that counts. Weighing in at a 100lbs (106lbs with the stand) it's undoubtebly a heavy piece of kit, and the task of having to condense the technology of a surround sound system into a compact shell.
Bose VideoWave: Audio performance
As we have come to expect from Bose, the audio performance is extremely polished. The new WaveGuide technology delivers those deep, low notes admirably which are key to reproducing the cinematic experience in your home. The real challenge that Bose faced though, aside from the speaker scenario, was being able to beam sound without positioning speakers around the room.
The first part of the solution is the seven speaker array, each with its own amplifier for crystal clear sound quality. The second solution was to channel the sound emitted from the in-built speakers in different directions to limit vibrations. Hence why 5 of the 7 speakers deliver the left, right and centre channels of sound.
Bose’s proprietary PhaseGuide sound radiator technology is the second part of the solution and sits underneath the seven speaker array. Sound is directed through a woven metal fabric with thousands of tiny holes that work like mini speakers. The new PhaseGuide sound radiator technology is a game-changing piece of audio kit and could well have a future in other products. We were given a demonstration of the proprietary technology with a short clip from the film August Rush. In the scene a young boy is wandering alone in New York, and the ability to identify the sound of a train moving below his feet, and the rattling of the shutter on the back of the lorry were impressive.
An accompanying Apple iPod/IPhone dock and the video mute function (which closes all your video sources) means you also have a music system at your disposal. We cranked up the volume and the rich audio clarity remained constant, giving it every reason to put the existence of a hi-fi system in your living room under threat.
Bose VideoWave: display performance
Bose had no involvement in the production and development of the LCD display used for the VideoWave and has not revealed who the manufacturer responsible was. so details on the specs are a tad sketchy. But we do know that it's a 1080p HD panel that does not support 3D. Bugger.
Along with a series of short film clips, we were also able to see the VideoWave in action with a Tivo set-top box, where we found the picture not to be as vibrant and vivid as we would expect to see from a new TV. But our time with it was brief. Pictures seemed flat, and it certainly feels like the display is a secondary element of this set-up.
Bose VideoWave: Click pad remote
Bose has attempted to bring the simplicity of the early models of remote controls by putting a mere six buttons (standby, switch sources, volume up/down, channel up/down, mute and return), a navigation pad for Electronic Progamme Guides and a click pad that lets you scroll through menu interfaces.
At first play it's certainly a sensitive device to get used to. It took us a few times to feel our way around the on-screen menus without selecting another function. The ability to switch through different sources and go into the EPG for the Tivo felt like a relatively smooth process. Typing multiple channel numbers which involves quickly selecting different numbers along the top of the interface, is initially a frustrating experience and one which took some time to master.
There are many reasons to laud over the VideoWave but there is plenty to make us wonder whether consumers will be happy to shell out £6,000 for a more clutter-free home entertainment experience. There is massive potential for Bose's PhaseGuide technology and we could certainly see it re-invogorating the soundbar market if the company decides to consequently go in that direction.
From a future-proofing perspective, it seems strange to us that the VideoWave does not support 3D considering most, if not, all leading television manufacturers now adopt the technology. Ultimately, the most disappointing element is the video quality. We are not sure who will buy an entertainment system where the main part of it, the display, is essentially the secondary element of the set-up. The same (if not slightly less) amount of money could alternatively be spent on a super-slim television, such as the Sony Bravia HX803 3D TV, and a more than decent surround sound set-up.
The VideoWave will be available from October 14th, we will bring you a full review as soon as possible.